Read the full story from NPR.
For the first time in Oregon’s history, toxins from a nearby algae bloom had made their way into a city’s tap water. The danger was limited — toxins were at low enough levels to only pose dangers to vulnerable populations, like children, pets, or nursing mothers.
But the fallout was immediate. Within hours of the alert, Salemites had cleared grocery stores and gas stations of their bottled water supplies. Videos surfaced of some shopkeepers gouging shoppers: $48 for a case of water bottles, in one instance. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown sent in the National Guard to distribute water.
Today, Oregon for the first time has rules largely unheard of in the United States. It’s requiring public water suppliers to test for toxins from algae.